Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Tony Roberts, Mary Steenburgen
- Informational pamphlet
- Theatrical Trailer
Released by: MGM Home Video.
My Advice: Borrow it unless you’re a Woody Allen fan.
Leopold (Ferrer), a renowned professor confident in the rationality of life and his own brilliance, is to marry Ariel (Farrow), a smart, beautiful, and young woman. The ceremony is to take place at the country house of Leopold’s cousin Adrian (Steenburgen) and her husband Andrew (Allen), an amateur inventor and spiritualist. Andrew, we discover, had a relationship with Ariel that was never consummated. This sexual tension does not help the problems Adrian and Andrew have in the bedroom. Also at this pastoral retreat are Andrew’s friend Maxwell (Roberts), a doctor who enjoys giving complete examinations to his female patients and his nurse, Dulcy (Hagerty), a naÃ¯ve yet sexually frank girl. Maxwell is also attracted to Ariel while Leopold is drawn to Dulcy’s animal charms. Add a flying machine and a spirit ball and you have all the ingredients for A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.
[ad#longpost]Unlike Allen’s earlier social satires or later “serious” work, this movie is fluff. It’s just a bunch of people being silly in a bucolic setting. If it has any message at all, it’s that people shouldn’t overthink sex and love. The love-addled antics could not be in a more beautiful setting: the forests and meadows are in full summer splendor. The cinematography is quite lovely. The actors also let the environment affect their acting, enjoying the silliness of their roles and the situations they are put in. There’s a certain freeness in their portrayals that compliments the story and setting. Unfortunately, Allen’s script allows too much modern language and attitude in. It causes the spell the movie is weaving to be disrupted when Hagerty’s character is so frank about sex or Roberts so angst-ridden about not winning Farrow’s heart. Also, with comedies as this, the timing needs to be quick and exact and the pacing seems to be affected adversely by the lazy summer afternoons.
While there are no special features on the disc, the box has an informational pamphlet talking about some of the themes about the movie, Allen’s own thoughts, and some trivia about its making. It’s odd that they didn’t include this on the disc, where you wouldn’t have the risk of losing the separate leaflet. And Allen doesn’t usually beef up his releases with a lot of features, so we kinda knew what we were in for here.
Bottom line is that while A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy is a nice movie to look at, I think it can be of interest to Allen aficionados only. Rent it if you must, but only true hardcore Allen fans will want to own.